• Syria, October 24, 2018

    The Japanese government again denied claims that it paid ransom in return for the release of Junpei Yasuda the freelance journalist, who was released a day earlier, after three years in Islamist captivity. According to the United Kingdom based the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR), the Qatari government who negotiated with the militants along with Turkey, paid the kidnappers U.S. $3 million in return for his release. (thetimes.co.uk, 24 October 2018)

  • Syria, October 23, 2018

    Nearly three and half years after he was a kidnapped by jihadist militants, a Japanese freelance journalist, Jumpei Yasuda (44) was freed in good health. Talking to reporters, Japan’s chief cabinet secretary, confirmed the report made by Qatari officials who announced that Yasuda, who was kidnapped in 2015, had been released and was at a Turkish immigration facility in Antakya. Yasuda was believed to be a hostage of the Nusra Front, which now calls itself Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham, a group known to capture foreigners for ransom. The Japanese official told reporters that Japan had not paid ransom money or negotiated directly with the militant group. Yasuda had been a hostage before. In 2004, he spent three days in captivity when he and several Japanese nationals were captured in Iraq and drew criticism at home for drawing the government into negotiations for his release. (nytimes.com, 24 October 2018)

  • Syria, July 31, 2018

    A video of a man appearing to be freelance Japanese journalist Jumpei Yasuda, who was kidnapped in June 2015, was posted on the Internet. In the 20-second footage filmed outdoors, the man said he was in harsh environment and needed an immediate rescue. The bearded man spoke in Japanese but said he was Korean named "Umaru" and said the date was 25 July 2018. During a routine news conference, Japanese Chief Cabinet Spokesman Yoshihide Suga stated that he believed the man in the video was Yasuda. He added that the government doing its utmost for the rescue Yasuda, but refused to give further details about the rescue efforts. He was taken hostage in Iraq in 2004 with three other Japanese, but was freed after Islamic clerics negotiated his release. He was kidnapped in Syria in 2015 to report on his journalist friend Kenji Goto, who was taken hostage and killed by the Islamic State group. (tampabay.com, 1 August 2018)

  • Syria, July 06, 2018

    Japan's Nippon News Network (NNN) released on its website a new video showing freelance journalist Jumpei Yasuda, who was captured by militants from the Jabhat al-Nusra, an al-Qaeda affiliated group (now calling itself Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham), in Syria in 2015. In the video, the journalist says that he "is fine" and expressed hope to return to his family "soon." He also urged his family not to "give up" or "forget" him. According to the journalist's words, the video was filmed in October 2017. The militants initially published a photo of him in 2016 with a demand of a US$10 million ransom in return for his release and threatened to pass him to the Islamic State militant group id their demands were not met. It is unclear whether the video was accompanied by another ransom demand, but the person who handed the video over to NNN said that Jumpei Yasuda's health had recently been deteriorating. (sputniknews.com, 6 July 2018)

  • Syria, June 04, 2016

    Video footage of a Japanese journalist who went missing in Syria emerged on Facebook in which he asked for Tokyo's help in securing his release. Tokyo studied the film of Jumpei Yasuda, who was not heard from since June 2015. Japanese media reported that the footage was posted by a Syrian who lives in Turkey. The Syrian said Yasuda was taken hostage by the al- Qaeda-linked Nusra Front rebel group. In the video, a bearded man says in English: "Hello, I am Jumpei Yasuda. Today is my birthday, 16 March." Nippon TV said it spoke by phone with "a negotiator" for a group that is seeking a ransom of USD$10 million.  There was no official response to the kidnapping. The Islamic State last year beheaded Japanese war correspondent Kenji Goto and his friend Haruna Yukawa. (thestandard.com.hk, and japantimes.co.jp, March 18, 2016)

  • Syria, May 29, 2016

    Japanese authorities authenticated a newly photo Japanese journalist, Jumpei Yasuda, posted online by his kidnappers. In the picture, heavily bearded Yasuda is holding a sign saying, "Please help me. This is my last chance." The journalist was kidnapped by the al-Qaeda affiliated al-Nusra Front in July. In March, a video emerged of Yasuda apparently accusing the Japanese government of ignoring him. Last year the Islamic State (IS) beheaded Japanese war correspondent Kenji Goto and Haruna Yukawa, leading to accusations that the Japanese authorities had not done enough to save them. A Syrian journalist, Tarik Abdul Hak, who claim to have been tasked by the group as liaison to communicate between the kidnappers and media outlets told the Japan Times that the Nusra Front has reportedly set a one-month deadline to receive ransom, which the group dropped from US$10 million to US$3million. (bbc.com, 30 May 2016 & ibtimes.com, 31 May 2016)

  • Syria, July 13, 2015

    The kidnappers of Junpei Yasuda--a Japanese journalist--who went missing in July made a ransom demand for his release. According to the France-based group Reporters Without Borders said it had learned that those holding the freelance journalist have started a countdown for a ransom payment, and are threatening to kill him or sell him to another militant group. The Japanese government declined to comment on the reported ransom demand. The reporter went to Syria in part to report on his friend journalist Kenji Goto who was beheaded by the Islamic State militants along with another Japanese national in January. (bt.com, 24 December 2015)